It’s week three of the new year and it’s fair to say that the disruption to trade routes from the Houthi attacks on shipping has become even more serious.

An Eagle Bulk Shipping bulker took a direct hit from a projectile on Monday in the Gulf of Aden just south of Yemen, and on Wednesday another US-listed company, Genco Shipping & Trading, was attacked by a Houthi drone.

Although, fortunately, there was no loss of life, rare images shared by the Indian Navy of the damage to the Genco Picardy leave no room for illusion regarding their devastating potential. It is undoubtedly a matter of luck that no seafarer has lost their life thus far.

And we are now seeing what can only be described as an exodus of all ship types from the region following the latest attacks. New data showed that tankers and bulkers have joined their container ship and car carrier bulker counterparts in diverting away from the Red Sea in droves.

Money, as well as the obvious security risks, is a factor, with the cost of getting insurance making the shorter route more expensive than going around the Cape of Good Hope. The situation is so bad that even Russian oil major Sovcomflot is contemplating diverting its tankers.

On Wednesday, a small bomb was set off outside Zim’s Piraeus office in an apparent protest against Israel’s war in Gaza. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the incident shows how tensions are boiling over with shipping in the crosshairs.

Away from the Middle East, VLCC fever is rife. TradeWinds reported that at least two key Greek shipowners are prowling the market for VLCC newbuilding berths with one named as having secured berths for two ships in China. Maria Angelicoussis and George Procopiou are seeking investments as some of shipping’s biggest names are racing to secure newbuildings.

Maria Angelicousis and George Procopiou. Photo: Financial Times and Capital Link

Earlier in the week, we reported that Norwegian shipping and offshore investor Kjell Inge Rokke was booking space for VLCC newbuildings, pencilling in slots for up to four vessels at South Korean shipbuilder Hanwha Ocean.

Meanwhile, in any normal week, the news that container shipping giants AP Moller-Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd had created a new alliance would have been our biggest news story. The Gemini Cooperation tie-up could generate a “seismic shift” in liner shipping alliances, we reported.

Long read

Netbulk founder and chairman Sanjeev Gupta at the company’s opening party this month. Photo: Jonathan Boonzaier

Jonathan Boonzaier recently caught up with Netbulk founder and chairman Sanjeev Gupta. Gupta started small when he founded commodities and shipping company Netbulk as a one-man shop working out of a shared office space in Singapore in 2018.

Today, the company has 23 employees across offices in Singapore and Dubai, and ambitious aims to become a shipowner.

Read the full interview here